RIP, New York Dawg Pound, I loved your hot dogs.
Despite its terrible name, the NYDP was the best thing about a sad stretch of Shawnee Mission Parkway, and really, the best hot dog-centric restaurant in the greater metro. (I know there isn’t much to be said for competition, exactly, but that wasn’t their fault; consider it the shortcoming of a society gone mad with fear of processed meats, and the ill-health effects they may usher.)
I, like thousands of others, discovered NYDP through Yelp, the probably-horrible user-food review site that purportedly boosts the rankings of restaurants who choose to advertise versus those who do not. Regardless of pretense, I took their 135 reviews with a 4-star average and made a visit.
See, I lived in Chicago during the heyday of Hot Doug’s, the “sausage superstore” or “encased meat emporium.” Doug Sohn, founder, closed his immensely popular hot dog stand LAST October, citing a desire to “do something different with his life.” His was the decision of a mad-genius who likely made millions off of “hot dogs.” (And actually continues to make money via a contract that has his brand slinging sausage at Wrigley.)
And now, this.
While NYDP was no Hot Doug’s—nothing is, what with Doug’s Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel, or their Mozzarella, tomato and pepper pork sausage with sriracha dijonnaise, cheese medley and bacon lardoons—it occupied a necessary, pork-less hole in Kansas City cuisine.
On more than one occasion, I indulged at NYDP in a Nathan’s Famous topped with chili, mustard, onions and cheese, or one topped with bacon, cheese and a fried egg. (They all had dog related names, which was lame, but whatever… they were fucking great.) Add a side of overly-seasoned, OK-Joe’s style fries, and you were in for a sodium-laden nightmare that required gallons of water shortly thereafter… and the next day, even.
And it was beautiful.
And affordable, too. While Doug’s dogs typically pushed northward of $8 USD—and you’d want two for the experience, and a side of duck-fat fries—NYDP never ran you more than $4 or $5 a piece. Costly, sure, but for what you were experiencing, a bargain.
The requisite snap of the casing. The overt gooiness of most of the toppings. The warm embrace of the pillowy bread. New York Dawg Pound was a fat mother’s hug on a chilly winter day, a salty explosion of comfort typically reserved for a bowl of your aunt’s best beef stew.
But it was greasy.
Not just the dogs—because that’s a given—but the whole enterprise. You walked in and basically slid toward the counter, your shoes suddenly skates on a tundra of freshly cooked lard. The walls were caked with oil, leaving you reticent to touch anything, save your food.
And maybe that’s what did it in.
Because if a place is that bad where you can see it, in all likelihood, it’s a nightmare of filth behind the scenes.
And in November of 2014, NYDP suffered several critical violations of the Johnson County Health Code. (Mostly due to products stored and served at unsavory temperatures.) Per county regulation, they were given 10 days to atone for their sins. And it seems likely they did, as they operated for several months thereafter.
But our fixation on public health is an ongoing one, not something to be met and conquered occasionally and forgotten.
(I guess what I’m saying is that they probably had another inspection after November of last year.)
Honestly, I have no idea what happened. Perhaps another critical inspection (yet un-posted) to the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s website will explain their doom.
Maybe the proprietor just saw fit to slip out while the slipping was good.
In any case, they closed.
I am left with a hot dog shaped hole in my heart, which actually may not be inherently bad (I mean, I guess the hole is less frightening than what I’d stuff it with), but I’ll be damned if I won’t miss their dogs.
You were a terrific hot dog place in a land void of tubular meat options. We are better for having known you, but of a lesser sort for your departure.
Goodnight, sweet prince.